Tijoon's Little Secret
never judge a book by its cover
Tijoon thought he could see his dog, Pal across the highway from the rest area. The rotty, mutt mix was easy to spot, even from long distances, but couldn’t of been him, he realized how much he missed his dog, that's how they die on the reservation, either shot or hit by a car, one or the other, he was around for the last ten of the thirteen years of Tijoons life, he really felt lost without him.
“Saagoolee gwis gwis!!”. Some men got out of a dark green van, he could tell it was a pow-wow vehicle by the burnt out, melted light bulbs. Result of doors being left open after drunken nights, or rolling joints on the dashboard, but more than likely from kids that were afraid of the dark when they had to sleep in it.
“He isn’t very wolf like”, the man poked Tijoons belly, “he looks more like a gwis gwis”. Tijoon stared down at his ugly beat up work boots. “I bet you can’t even lace those things up yourself, Piggy, bet momma has to do that for you”. Preston was your typical idiot, the overweight, once hotshot was nothing but a washed up local drug dealer. His once black, natural, horse mane hair was now matted salt and pepper locks that went great with his attire that was more for an 18 year old, let alone someone who is in their 40’s. But that was nothing compared to the few hairs where a beard should be, that he grew out several inches, and made him look sleazier and scummier than usual.
Preston looked down at his phone to read a message and looked up, “ Rolando isn’t coming tonight, so let's go get a room, 5 elbows, that's 80 more stacks, then we can head back to the city”. “I wonder what he means by “elbow” Tijoon thought.
One of them came out with a case of beer and they got in the van and left, not before Preston yelled out “Ohhhnaa Gwis Gwisss!!”.
Tijoon walked into the bathroom, “man, fuck those guys”, he felt a need for self pity. Everything he owned was used, mainly his clothes, the only thing he ever got new was underwear and socks. He wore a cheesy “medicine” bag around his neck that his uncle brought back from a powwow. The cheap feathers looked like they came off a feather duster, along with a generic water bird looking motiff on the pouch. it was probably Lakota, even though Tijoon was Oneida, from the Haudenosaunee, after all, his name meant “wolf” in the language.
He wanted to cry, thinking of how sad his mom was, struggling with no way to make things better. He kicked the bathroom stall with his steel toe, and for a second all of his bad feelings came rushing out at once. The kids on the playground, the bully pulling his hair, the girl who laughed when he asked her to rollerskate, knowing he may never leave this reservation.
Frustrated, he grabbed the pouch and squeezed it, and let his tears flow, “I wish I had sneakers, a playstation, a bike, I wish I could give my mom money”. He was about to use the toilet before turning around to lock the door.
On the floor of the stall was a little black book. “Probably Prestons…. GOOD….. fuck him,”. He grabbed it, and was about to throw it in the trash, but instead flipped it open. “It looks like a delivery route”. And something caught his eye, “Rolando, 8, RA”
As he was walking home, he wondered, “Wonder what would happen if I called that number? I wonder if I could mess up Prestons plans? Or even make him look bad? That would be funny.”
When he arrived, he came in from the back to his old dog's house and lifted it up and placed the book underneath the floor. It was hidden, no one would know it was there.
He walked back to the road, and came in the front driveway as usual. “Mom? ….“Shhhhh!!” Mom loved her alone time, and hated when anyone interrupted it. She had a big plate fitted with paper towels, chicken breasts and breadcrumbs, so he knew he was in for a great dinner, mom's fried chicken.
“How was your day wittle wolfie?”........”ok”........”Just ok?”. She could tell something was up with her son. Once her show went into a commercial, she came over and touched his shoulder.
“I saw that dickhead Preston at the rest area, he calls me piggy, I hate it when he says that, especially in front of pretty girls”. She smiled but was concerned, “You're a lot younger than him son, he’s mad that he’s done nothing in life. Just washed up and here to stay, no wonder why he hates everything”. With that, a noise came rushing into the driveway.
“TIJOON!! YOU HERE!!??”, it was Preston and his gang, he banged on the screen door. “TIJOOON!!”. Now he was a bit scared, maybe he’ll get beat up, not tonight, but probably tomorrow. “What the hell are you doing?” said his Mom. The 3 men stood outside and Preston looked his mom in the eye “ Sorry Mrs. Emerson, I need to talk to your son about something really important, can I?”... “Must be really important to bother us at this hour, is he in trouble? Did he do anything I should know about?”.....”No, I just need to ask him about something I lost”.... “Tijoon!! Come out here for a minute, these guys need to ask you something.”
Tijoon walked onto the porch and gave Preston a puzzled look, “Hey, kid, I’m not going to fuck around, BUT, if you found anything, you better hand it over, and god help you if you did something with it, I’m talking about a little black book”. Tijoon was a bit worried now, “ I really don't know what you’re talking about”. He got closer “sounds like you have all your words planned out…...now answer me this, DID YOU TAKE IT?...”. Tijoon held up his palms and shook his head. Preston let out a sigh. “Look, if you did, you’d tell me right?”. He nodded. Preston bit his lip and punched his own hand, “man, I’m fucked”.
The guys mumbled a bit before getting back in their van and headed back towards the highway. “Do you know what they were talking about?” “No Mom, I really don’t”.
Mom was done with her TV time so she started to fry the chicken and get dinner ready. When they finished eating, Tijoon washed up, and headed outside. His mom hollered, “Where are you going?”....Tijoon replied “I had a dream about Pal, I miss him, thought I’d go out to his doghouse for a bit.” “School tomorrow buddy, got to be in bed at 9”, “Ok, Mom”. He grabbed his flashlight and went out to the doghouse. He grabbed the little black book and scurried back to his room.
Now he felt this energy coming from it that didn't feel right, now if he was caught, he was a liar as well, both for those guys and his mom. He opened the book again and stared at the name “Rolando” and kept repeating it to himself. He went to the kitchen and took his moms phone, “Ok, lets see who Rolando is”. He texted, “I was there at 8, where were you?”. He started to giggle, the text came back “I’m sending a friend, I’m sorry, I just got caught up in stuff”. He texted back, “well, tomorrow at 8 then?”. “Yeah, I will be there, I’m really sorry”. He wanted to make a fool of Preston, He lay down in bed and stared at the ceiling until he fell asleep.
As usual, Tijoon woke up and got ready for school. He pretended everything was normal, but not before checking his moms phone, “I’m sending someone there to drop off the 80 stacks at 8, please be there”. 80 stacks of what? He thought no matter what it was, 80 of anything would be a real armful, and started to have second thoughts. “Tijoon, what happened to my phone?” His mom was ready to leave, “uhhh, I don’t know”. He stashed the little black book and her phone under his mattress. She always said she hated the phone anyway, nothing but bad news, he figured he’d keep it for now.
The school day went by quickly, he got off the bus, ran to his room and grabbed the little black book and phone, and walked towards the rest area.
He opened the phone and texted, “Its almost 8, I’m sending my younger brother, he’s heavy with long hair and a red shirt”. There was no backing out now.
As 8 approached, a white caprice pulled up and a lady got out. Tijoon waved and walked over to her. “ I’m here for Rolando, he doesn’t want to be seen”. Tijoon acted naturally “That's good, because we do things the same way”. She smiled, “Good idea, police won't bother a kid”. She handed him a package. “We’ll text back shortly”. Tijoon ran back to his house, to his bedroom, locked the door, threw the package on his bed and stared at it, “could it be drugs?” Carefully, he used his knife to open it up.
When you see money, especially when it's a surprise, it does something to the human psyche. When you see a dollar on the ground, as opposed to having one in your hand, the excitement, and the rush, that you’ve really found something, shoots through your body, Tijoon could hardly contain the adrenaline. Hundred dollar bills, perfect, pristine, like a dream. Scared to count, he lifted up a tiny fraction of the wad, “That's a thousand dollars!! Oh MAN”. He took the money, and ran out to the dog house and stashed it under the floor.
Tonight was moms social night, so he ate a bowl of cereal and hopped into bed, only to awake a few hours later to a dreadful sight. He thought he could see a faint red blinking light reflecting off the ceiling, and it became obvious as they got closer that there were police outside.
“Nancy?? You home?” Tijoon's mom came out. “Yes…...Dino? Is that you? Little late isn’t it?” The familiar officer began to talk, “Nancy, we have reason to believe your son was involved in a big drug deal”. “Hahahahaha, you got the wrong house Columbo, my kid is too dumb to do anything like that”. Dino spoke, “He was seen taking a paper bag from a lady we have in custody, he’s on camera”. His mom interjected, “Tijoon’s a good boy, he doesn’t go far, and he could never do anything like that”. Tijoon came out in his pajamas, and another officer came forward, “Sorry Miss, we just have to ask him some questions”. Dino looked back at the other officers, “see, I told you, they aren’t living in the lap of LUXURY here”. He continued, “You know a guy named Preston by any chance?” Tijoon looked away, “Yeah, but I don’t like him,” he continued, ,“What about Rolando?”.......”Whooo?”..... “ “Well, you won’t be hearing from Preston again, he is deceased”. Tijoon sat quietly. “Preston's dead?”. “He got into an argument this morning with his neighbor, and shot the owner's dog, so in turn the owner shot back and killed him instantly”.
Tijoon stood there and realized he pulled it off. Like he was shopping on the Price is Right, the Playstation was his, the bike was his, he could help his mom move, maybe even buy another dog. Dreams CAN come true, maybe from wishing on a star, throwing a coin into a well, could even be from wishing on a weird trinket, but one thing Tijoon Emerson knew for sure, it all started with a little black book.